Belize - Belize News - - Great Belize Productions - Belize Breaking News
Home » Health » Healthy Living: What You Need to Know About the *New* Coronavirus
Jan 30, 2020

Healthy Living: What You Need to Know About the *New* Coronavirus

Today, the World Health Organization declared the new coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern. This type of declaration is a rare designation used only for the worst outbreaks and subsequently triggers more coordinated global action. There is a lot of information being circulated, and naturally, many of us are concerned. In tonight’s Healthy Living, we find out more about the new virus and its potential threat for us in Belize.


Marleni Cuellar, Reporting

The novel coronavirus – novel meaning new — emerged in headlines across the globe just a few weeks ago. Since it is a new strain of the coronavirus, there is a lot that is unknown, and an urgent global effort is underway to understand it better. While there is further information being reported daily, here are some simple facts to help you understand the virus and the potential threat for us in Belize.
Firstly, what is the coronavirus? There are actually several strains of coronavirus. The novel coronavirus being discussed today is a new strain that has not been detected in humans before. The first case was confirmed in Wuhan, China at the end of last year.  The virus causes respiratory illness, which means people who get the virus may have mild symptoms like fever, runny nose and cough.  It can also cause more severe diseases like pneumonia, which can lead to death.  As of January thirtieth, there over eight thousand confirmed cases; of that number, about one hundred and seventy have died as a result. The majority of these cases and all reported deaths have been reported in China.  As of this date, about a hundred of these cases have been confirmed in nearly eighteen countries outside of China. In this region, which includes North, South and Central America, only the U.S.A. and Canada have confirmed cases with less than ten cases in total at this time.
Who is at risk? People of all ages can be infected by the virus. In China, it is found that older people and who already have medical conditions appear to be more vulnerable to becoming severely ill with the virus. But what is the specific risk for Belize?


Dr. Russel Manzanero, Epidemiologist, Ministry of Health

“For now, Belize continues to be at low risk.”


Dr. Russel Manzanero is the Epidemiologist for the Ministry of Health.


Russel Manzanero

Dr. Russel Manzanero

“By that it means that we are not being faced with any kind of local transmission here or by anybody coming into the country. The measures being taken in the US is actually to do their screening there. So screening is done in the U.S., Belize does receive the traveller from the U.S. And we are also aware that they are coming in from Panama and El Salvador, so we did reach them as well, and we know they are doing screenings in their own countries before they even begin to Belize.”


What is Belize doing in response to the threat? According to primary health coordinator for central health region, Doctor Melissa Diaz, Belize has already initiated its surveillance plan. And within the past few days, they have added additional reinforcement.


Melissa Diaz

Dr. Melissa Diaz, Primary Health Coordinator, Central Health Region, MOH

“In general, what has happened over the last two days is that we have heightened the surveillance, especially at P.G.I.A.  With the cruise ships, it works a bit differently. Because there is a manifest that is given to the public health inspectors and the cruise ships also have their doors and nurse on board so even prior to that we would know if someone is ill on the ship or if they re suspecting some infectious disease. With the flight coming in, there were some concerns because the manifest that we currently receive did not have the origin of the passenger. So it would have yes the flight is coming from Houston or Miami or Dallas, but we don’t know who is connected or from where. Over the last 24 hours we have met with key personnel from the Belize airport authority from PGIA and with civil aviation, and we have strengthened this plan now. So that the manifest will include the names of the passengers and the origin which is very important for us.   We are in flu season, and we will have patients, passengers coming in with symptoms of cough cold etc. but what is different with this new virus, yeas you should have these symptoms along with previous travel to part so of China especially Wuhan of Hubei province over the last fourteen to fifteen days as well as if you’ve had any contact with somebody who is suspected of having this virus or who is confirmed to have this virus. Then you become someone that we would need to isolate and to interview and to do vital signs to find out if you’re ill and to take you that more seriously. If there is a case lest stay that fits the case definition of flu-like illness with travel within the last fourteen days to one of these high-risk areas, then we have something in place for that person. For that reason, the nurse is there she would interview immediately, isolate, also spoken with BERT, who is a part of our plan as well. They have personal protective equipment they will be using to transport the patient, and the Ministry of Health is currently discussing with K.H.M.H. as well as to where the isolation area will be.”


And what can you do to protect yourself?


Dr. Russel Manzanero

“It is one of the families of influenza, and we still need to work at that prevention aspect. I think we need actually to be aware of the situation. We need to take responsibility if I know that this is the situation, it is not only for coronavirus, but for influenza for a whole, even when there are diarrhea cases. We need to know that we need to take our part. Proper hand-washing, the cough etiquette that we should be coughing in our elbow or sleeve or tissues and then throwing it away. You see people with rags, setting down the rag and someone else comes and touches it. That is a mode of transmission.   I know the concern around this novel virus is here, but we also have to be aware of our own regular flu that is in the country. The regular flu, for example, does kill. It gets so severe that individuals develop pneumonia and it can kill. Those prevention measures, the flu shots the messages hand washing need to be I think reinforced.”


Dr. Melissa Diaz

“This novel virus is brand new it’s evolving it is something that we have to take the guidance from W.H.O. and from C.D.C. and our counterpart CARPHA saying that your country still remains at low risk and yet we still heighten surveillance and do preventative measures to ensure that the virus does not come into Belize.”


So while this latest coronavirus is novel, the preventative measures are anything but. For now, your best prevention of this mysterious virus starts with your very first health lesson of proper hygiene practices.

Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

Advertise Here

Comments are closed